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How to Reuse Gift Bags - 19 Ideas and Tips

Priscilla Greene |

It’s no secret that everyone loves receiving gifts from their loved ones. This simple gesture is fulfilling on both a material and a spiritual level, but what can we make out of all the bags that get left behind?

In this article, we will discuss ten crafty ideas on how to reuse gift bags that are creative, entertaining, and beneficial for the environment at the same time.  

1.    Wrapping Paper


What better way to reuse old gift bags than by having them come full circle and becoming wrapping paper? To do this, simply remove the handles and go to town. This works best with a gift bag made from thin paper. If you find that the material is too plain for your liking, try gluing tiny decorations onto it, such as the pompoms pictured above. 

2.    Shopping Bags

Another top choice on our list on how to reuse gift bags has to do with repurposing them for shopping and groceries. The next time you hit stores, bring your own reusable shopping bags instead of asking the cashier for one, which is incredibly wasteful. Why hoard tens of plastic bags in your home when you can easily avoid that and help the planet in the process as well.

Gift bags have the incredible advantage of being a lot sturdier than your traditional plastic alternative as well, which is a huge bonus. Many of them are made from materials that stand the test of time, such as canvas or jute. If you have a day of heavy spending planned ahead, it is advisable to bring a tote that is resistant and won’t break in the middle of your errand run. 

3.    Book Covers

Making DIY book covers from gift bags is another clever way to teach your family a lesson in sustainability. It reduces both paper and plastic waste, as you are repurposing another item while avoiding the purchase of plastic-made goods as well. Choose gift bags with fun prints made from denser materials to achieve the best possible results 

4.    Greeting Cards

Any remarkable birthday gift needs the right greeting card to accompany it. Instead of spending hours in the shop trying to decide on one, why not make your own? Gift bags are the ideal resource for this DIY project, as they come in a wide variety of celebratory colors and patterns. Plus, you will get to write a heartfelt message inside, which is bound to make an impression.

5.    Wall Décor

Gift bags of all shapes, sizes, and colors provide innovative replacements for wall décor. Cut out your very own exuberant and exclusive designs from them and stick them on or use the bags to produce one of a kind picture frames. With a little bit of imagination and a lot of patience, you will manage to add a distinct touch to your home. 

6.    Origami

Speaking of origami, why not turn old paper totes into fun decorations for your home? Start with beginner-friendly designs, such as the tulip, the boat, the fan, or the ever so popular crane, then move your way up towards more intricate ornaments. Use vivid colors and unique prints to bring some brightness into your home.

7.    Coasters

Coasters are another example of how to reuse gift bags in order to create something new. However, you should refrain from using paper or cardboard ones, as they are incredibly susceptible to water damage. Jute totes are a great alternative in this situation, as the bushy and fibrous wooden material is durable and sturdy.

Polypropylene is another common material for such bags that is water-resistant, which makes it a wonderful resource for your DIY coaster project. If you find that the resulting items are too thin for your liking, glue multiple pieces of the bag together until the desired girth is reached.

8.    Envelopes

hand made envelopes


Next in the discussion on how to reuse gift bags, paper ones to be more exact, as envelopes. There are three main types you can create, namely pouch envelopes, taped envelopes, or origami envelopes. Depending on the result you want to accomplish, techniques will vary. Of course, pouches are the easiest to make at home.

All you need to do is a square or rectangular piece of the gift bag, along with some glue. Glue two of the open ends together, leaving the one on the top exposed. Create a flap, stick the letter or card in, then secure accordingly. Taped envelopes require a lot of folding, as do origami ones, but if you’re in the market for an intricate DIY project, they are worth looking into.

9.    Magazine Holders

Do you have a lot of loose magazines and newspapers lying around the house? If the answer is yes, then you might be in dire need of a method to organize them all and keep the living area neat and tidy. Old gift bags are perfect for this. Simply take out their handles and organize the publications by year, genre, or whatever else tickles your fancy.

10. Scrapbooking

hand made scrapbook


Scrapbooking is an irreplaceable way to preserve important memories and capture but a morsel of the incredible feelings and emotions behind any special event. By putting together photographs, drawings, clippings, journal entries, and other meaningful paraphernalia, your album can become a world in its own.

To decorate this homage to your personal history in a modern and inventive way, use pieces of paper and fabric repurposed from old gift bags. They will look pretty and mark a notable moment exquisitely without creating any paper or plastic waste. Furthermore, this practice is beneficial to you and the environment simultaneously too.

11. Gallery Wall

If you have gift bags that you’d like to use as pieces of a gallery at home, there’s noting simpler than that. You’ll just need the gift bags, a pack of stretched canvas for the frame, and faux leather or felt to turn into frame.

Wrap the canvas into the leather and fix everything into place, then stick the gift bag scrap on the makeshift frame. The resulting piece can look better even than what you can buy in an art and craft store.

Watch the tutorial below and see for yourself how simple it is to turn those cute gift bags into a nice gallery wall at home. Your family and friends will be impressed.

 12. Journal Cover

You can repurpose a gift bag with beautiful designs by turning it into a hardcover for your journal. It takes a bit more effort and patience than the DIY book cover mentioned earlier, but the result is well worth it.

You’ll need glue, tape, two pieces of chipboard, and, of course, an old gift bag. Watch the tutorial below on how to do it at 30 minutes, it is a bit lengthy, though).

 13. Tiny Gift Boxes

Another way to give your old gift bags new life is turning them into splendid gift boxes. The great thing about these boxes is that they are made by you and unique as there are no two looing the same.

In the tutorial below you learn how to turn Christmas greeting cards into petite gift boxes, but the process can be replicated with gift bags or gift bag leftovers too.

The good news about these crafts is that they can be monetized if they look really awesome. Another big plus is that they perfectly accommodate small Christmas stocking stuffers and will help you save bing on expensive gift wrap.

Check out this article by Tote Bag Factory about the wastefulness of holiday wrapping paper and some cool and perfectly doable alternatives.  

14. DIY Seedling Pots

Gift bags can be easily turned into makeshift seed-starting cups. Many DIY tutorials online use newspaper as it is biodegradable, but for a sturdier alternative you can swap the newspaper with gift bag paper that you no longer need.

A big bonus is that you can easily turn paper into a square seedling pot without being an expert in origami (the Japanese art of folding paper). What’s more, unlike commercial planters, paper seedling pots can be as spacious as you make them to. So, you don’t have to worry about your tiny plants outgrowing them before the time to plant them has come.

Unlike newspaper seed-starting cups, the gift bag ones should not go into the ground along with the seedling. The dyes and laminated parts of a gift bag make them less biodegradable and less healthy for the soil than your average newspaper. Check out the tutorial below on how to make the pots. 

15. Colorful Confetti

Why shelling out extra cash for confetti when you have confetti at home under the guise of a pile of old gift bags. Use a paper shredder to turn the bags into colorful pieces that you can safely use for months o come. The same hack can be applied on gift wrap too. Staying green and zero-waste has never been easier.  

16. Festive Name Tags

Cut the gift bag paper into squares, circles and any other form that you might fancy in order to turn them into name tags that you can use on next Christmas’ gifts. You’ll need a hole punch to make the tiny gap that the ribbon will go through look more professional. If you don’t have ribbon, you can use string as well. 

17. DIY Christmas Paper Chain

With the right glue and amount of patience, you can repurpose your old gift bags as DIY Christmas paper chains which you can use to decorate your home or Christmas tree next year.

hy spending your heard earned cash on new Christmas decorations when you can have the raw materials to make new one just under your nose? Many of our grandmothers (and great grandmothers) use to repurpose everything they could turn into something useful.

Just remember those drawers lined with magazines or scrapbook paper. Pretty old school, right? Yes, but insanely environmentally friendly. 

18. Beautiful DIY Paper Christmas Ornaments

These beautiful accordion medallion paper ornaments for the Christmas tree are both eco- and budget-friendly. Here’s a tutorial on how to make them. They are not as daunting as they might seem.

19. Woven Paper Ball Garland

Another popular paper Christmas decoration that you can make from old gift bags is the woven paper ball garland. This decoration however can be used year-round including for birthday parties if the paper is not Christmas themed.

The best paper for this is the non-shiny one, but with a bit of ambition you can weave the laminated one too. Just make sure that it doesn’t come with needless textures. Here’s how to do it.

The Bottom Line

Who says that old gift bags have to go to waste? With the help of the twenty ideas presented above, you will make the most out of any tote you receive, regardless of the material it is made of. Paper and cardboard are the most resourceful, but you can always make do with canvas, jute, and polypropylene as well.